SINGAPORE: Last month, an elderly woman who only wanted to be known as May found out she had contracted the coronavirus.
She was fully vaccinated against COVID-19, having received her second dose three months before testing positive.
“I was very shocked and kept thinking how come I got the virus?” she told TBEN. “When I was working I felt great, I had no symptoms … no cough, no flu, no headaches, nothing at all.”
May, who is 70, works as a cashier in a restaurant in Tiong Bahru.
Her infection was detected after her employer asked staff members to get tested before reporting to work. At the time, an increasing number of cases had been detected in the area, prompting authorities to carry out tests for staff, tenants and visitors.
After being swabbed, she went to work, only to be informed a few hours later that she had tested positive for COVID-19.
She was scared when she was admitted to the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID) that evening.
“I was very scared, I didn’t know what to do, what was happening to me and what (the hospital) would do with me when I was there,” said May, who suffers from several chronic illnesses.
However, her fears quickly subsided as she showed no symptoms, even during her hospital stay.
“I felt very healthy and fine… I just had to do swab tests, blood tests, blood pressure checks and oxygen readings,” she said.
In fact, the only medication she needed to take was for her chronic illness.
READ: Back to stricter measures needed as COVID-19 infections likely to ‘rise sharply’ at current transmission rates: Ministry of Health
A week later, she was released from the hospital and taken to a community health facility in Loyang, which is the usual arrangement for those with mild or no symptoms.
Patients at these facilities are being closely monitored in case they need to be transferred to hospital for better care and support, according to the Ministry of Health website. Most of them recover with “minimal” intervention, he said.
May’s experience is not uncommon, and official data shows that vaccination can help prevent serious illness.
“For example, they’re less likely to develop a fever and less likely to have a cough and shortness of breath,” said Dr. Barnaby Young, consultant at NCID.
“We also observed that they have significantly lower measures of inflammation on blood tests and are less likely to develop pneumonia.”
READ: Getting COVID-19 Vaccine May Reduce Symptom Severity: Experts
As of Wednesday evening (July 21), of the 412 local cases of COVID-19 reported in the past 28 days who had been fully vaccinated, all had mild or no symptoms.
In the partially vaccinated group, 0.7 percent of patients who received a dose of the vaccine required supplemental oxygen.
As for those who had not received any vaccine doses, 2.4% of the 253 local cases developed serious illness, required supplementation with oxygen or admission to intensive care units.
Currently, treatment for COVID-19 is based on the severity of the infection, said Dr. Young. Remdesivir and dexamethasone are generally reserved for COVID-19 patients with pneumonia who develop low levels of oxygen in the blood, he added.
Dr Young said the NCID is currently studying the results of COVID-19 infection in vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and more data will soon be available.
SENIORS INVITED TO BE VACCINATED
Amid a spike in infections, Singapore has pushed for more older people to get vaccinated, as they are most at risk of developing serious illness.
In a press conference on Tuesday, COVID-19 multi-ministerial task force co-chair Gan Kim Yong said that of the 81 people aged 60 and over who were infected in the past week, 12 n were not vaccinated.
This is a “big concern,” he said, as nearly 30% of Singapore’s senior population, over the age of 70, remains unvaccinated.
The health ministry had previously said it would step up awareness among older people and encourage them to get vaccinated, deploying mobile vaccination teams to more central locations such as community clubs or residents’ committee centers.
As of July 20, more than 6.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Singapore.
More than 2.7 million people have been fully immunized, which represents about 49% of the population.
READ: COVID-19 vaccination rate among seniors is good, but more can be done, experts say
READ: The big read – As COVID-19 becomes rampant, it’s a race against time to get more seniors vaccinated
As for May, who has returned to work, she remains on her guard and helps spread the word about getting the vaccine.
“(When my vaccination appointment) was fixed, I went there right away … because it is (safer) for me, my family and for the others too,” he said. she declared.
“Some people think that even if they are not (vaccinated) nothing will happen, but then I tell them – you see (I have) received COVID,” she said.
“So I encourage them to get vaccinated because it’s better for them and to prevent their families and others from getting sick, and even if they do get sick, it will be less serious.
“Last time around I wasn’t that (careful) so my mask kept sliding up and down, but after this experience I know I have to take care of myself and also take care of others.
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